Honorary Member

One or more Honorary Members may be selected each year by the Academy's Board of Trustees by affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of its members. The individual so honored possesses one or more of the following characteristics:

  • has attained a position of eminence in the field of environmental and/or human health protection;
  • has made a single noteworthy contribution or sustained contribution to the advancement of environmental and/or human health protection; or
  • has rendered outstanding service over a long period of time resulting in the advancement of the affairs of the Academy.

For the full list of eligibility criteria and information on how you can submit nominations for a worthy Environmental Engineer or Scientist, click here.

Honorary Winner

2018 Honorary Member

Rita Rossi Colwell, Ph.D.

Dr. Rita R. Colwell is the Distinguished University Professor at University of Maryland College Park and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health; Global Science Officer and Chairman at CosmosID, Inc.; and Senior Advisor and Chairman Emeritus at Canon U.S. Life Sciences.

Dr. Rita Colwell's interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health, and Dr. Colwell developed an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world, in collaboration with Safe Water Network, headquartered in New York City.

Dr. Colwell served as the 11th Director of the National Science Foundation, 1998-2004. In her capacity as NSF Director, she served as Co-chair of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council. One of her major interests includes K-12 science and mathematics education, graduate science and engineering education and increased participation of women and minorities in science and engineering.

Dr. Colwell served as President of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and Professor of Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University Maryland. She was also a member of the National Science Board from 1984 to 1990.

Dr. Colwell has been awarded 61 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education, including her Alma Mater, Purdue University and is the recipient of the 2005 Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, bestowed by the Emperor of Japan, the 2006 National Medal of Science awarded by the President of the United States, the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize awarded by the King of Sweden, the 2017 Vannevar Bush Award from the National Science Foundation, and the 2017 International Prize for Biology from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Dr. Colwell is an honorary member of the microbiological societies of the UK, Australia, France, India, Israel, Bangladesh, Czechoslovakia, and the U.S. and has held several honorary professorships, including the University of Queensland, Australia. A geological site in Antarctica, Colwell Massif, has been named in recognition of her work in the Polar Regions.

Dr. Colwell has held many advisory positions in the U.S. Government, nonprofit science policy organizations, and private foundations, as well as in the international scientific research community. She is a nationally-respected scientist and educator, and has authored or co-authored 19 books and more than 800 scientific publications. She produced the award-winning film, Invisible Seas, and has served on editorial boards of numerous scientific journals.

Dr. Colwell has previously served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Microbiology and also as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Washington Academy of Sciences, the American Society for Microbiology, the Sigma Xi National Science Honorary Society, the International Union of Microbiological Societies, and the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). Dr. Colwell is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal Irish Academy, the Bangladesh Academy of Science, the Indian Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

Dr. Colwell has a B.S. in Bacteriology and an M.S. in Genetics from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Washington.

Past Winners

2017 Hawkins, George
2016 Kirk, Ken
2015 No recipient
2014 Jenkins, David
2013 Sutley, Nancy
2013 Rittmann, Bruce E.
2013 Jackson, Lisa
2012 Van Antwerp, Jr., Robert L.
2011 Randall, Clifford W.
2010 Crombie, George R.
2009 McCarty, Perry
2009 Rouse, Michael
2008 Sekarajasekaran, A. "Sek"
2007 Gunaratnam, Daniel J.
2006 Barnard, James L.
2005 Qingtao, Xie
2004 Lohani, Bindu Nath
2003 Gloyna, Earnest F.
2002 Bath, Vincent
2001 Tambo, Norihito
2000 Imhoff, Klaus R.
1999 Ludwig, Harvey F.
1994 O'Connor, Donald J.
1991 Stern, Arthur C.
1988 Okun, Daniel A.
1983 Wolman, Abel
1982 Kappe, Stanley E.

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